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The Management Calendar
Farm Business Management Update, August/September 2004
By Gordon Groover, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Farm Business Management, VT
Farm business managers should consider putting the following activities on their management calendars for August-September.
- Be sure to get your crop records in shape as harvest time approaches: include yields, machine times and equipment used (this will help with next year's budgeting), identify weed problems, and differences in hybrids. If you are looking for a listing of crop record keeping software, be sure to visit "Ropin' the Web," Alberta, Canada's Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development site at http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/econ4118?opendocument. This winter after harvest is completed make sure you allow time to review inputs, yields, and management of each field. If you are using yield monitors, they are a ready source of information to analyze using a spreadsheet. Nutrient management plans require that applied nutrients closely follow expected crop removals. However; if farm-level records of yields/removals are not kept then nutrient applications are driven by county or soil averages. Documentation of farm yields will allow silage and hay producers to profitably match nutrients with field-specific potentials. Consider ways to weigh wagons: if you live near a site with truck scales, weigh a few sample loads and use the results to better estimate yields. Consider purchasing a set of portable scales (less $2,000) that could be used to weigh all silage and hay crops. The added knowledge about nutrient removal and yields will allow you to make more profitable decisions.
- Always pay close attention to cash flow needs as you generate cash reserves during fall harvest and get ready for real estate and personal property taxes this winter. Almost all computerized recordkeeping software, e.g., Quicken® or Microsoft Money® and accounting software, e.g. QuickBooks® or FarmWorks, create cash flow reports that assist in managing cash available for debt service, family living, and cash expenses. Compare this year's cash flow to the budgeted amount and highlight deviations. If you did not develop a budget for this year, compare your inflows and outflow to last year's August totals. Make sure you have a series of possible plans to address any projected cash short falls. Projected surplus should be added to your retirement program, e.g., IRA's, 401-K's, and so on.
- The time to make tax management decisions is quickly approaching. Make sure that you have set aside a few days in October to summarize all farm and family financial records and make an appointment now with your accountant to work on end-of-year tax management strategies.
- The 29th Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign-up starts August 30 and ends September 24, 2004, contact your local FSA office for details at http://oip.usda.gov/scripts/ndisapi.dll/oip_agency/index?state=us&agency=fsa.
- Do you miss hearing the quail calling in the spring time and hunting in the fall? Then contact your local FSA office about signing up for the CRP Northern Bobwhite Quail Habitat Initiative. This program has a stated goal of creating 250,000 acres of early successional grass buffers along agricultural field borders to improve habitat for the quail in the historic range of the Midwest and Southeast.
- Having a hard time finding USDA forms or having to stop everything to hand deliver a CCC633LDP? Most of the frequently used FSA, NRCS, and Rural Development forms that farmers need to complete can be found at the following site: http://forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/eforms/mainservlet. The USDA Service Center eForms cover all the bases from the agricultural Conservation Program to the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program. If you registered with the eForms web site, some of the forms can be submitted electronically and might save you a trip to town.
- Need to translate English to Spanish? Take a look at this web site http://extensionenespanol.net/links.cfm?libraryid=3 for a listing of online dictionaries. A post on the Agricultural Labor Management list a good site to help with audio for words in English and in Spanish at http://www.spanishdict.com/.
Virginia Cooperative Extension